The Boston Celtics snapped their six-game losing streak after defeating the Atlanta Hawks, 94-87. Trailing by 10-points to start the fourth quarter, Boston battled back with an inspired defensive effort to give them the victory, moving them to 5-10 on the year.
Through three quarters it was the same old song and dance for the Boston Celtics. The C's competed for the first half and trailed by only 4 at halftime, but Atlanta extended the lead thanks to a 17-5 run in the latter half of the third quarter. However, the Celtics changed their tune, as they slowly crept back from an 11-point deficit with a 14-2 run to take the lead at the 3:31 mark of the final period. For the next minute, the Celtics and Hawks traded baskets before a Jordan Crawford layup gave them a 3-point lead with less than 2-minutes to go. After Jeff Green won a crucial battle for a loose ball with Paul Millsap, Jordan Crawford sank a runner to give the Celtics a 5-point lead, clinching the win.
The Celtics held the Hawks to a 38.7 field goal percentage, which was paramount considering they turned the ball over 19 times. Six Boston players scored over 10 points, including all five starters. Brandon Bass led with 17 points, Jeff Green had 16, and Jared Sullinger added in 15. For Atlanta, Al Horford had a relatively quiet 18 points, and Jeff Teague had a double double with 13 points and 10 assists.
With only 15 points and 8 rebounds, it's obvious that the stats lie tonight, because Jared Sullinger was a beast. Sully stifled Al Horford all night long, making things difficult for the two-time All-Star center. Using his wide-body, he was routinely carving out space inside, grabbing rebounds, or at least tipping loose balls to give his teammates a chance at a board. For the second night in a row, Sullinger has met the challenge of defending one of the NBA's best bigs.
Hard foul wakes up the Hawks
After Jared Sullinger battered DeMarre Carroll in transition, picking up his first flagrant foul of the season, the Hawks responded with a 15-5 run, building a 10-point lead. Assisted by two careless Brandon Bass turnovers and the lack of a functioning point guard, the Celtics were unable to generate any offense as the Hawks turned up the intensity. Avery Bradley could've had an easy layup after he intercepted a pass, but Paul Millsap hustled back and blocked the shot from behind. The flagrant foul also seemed to set off Jeff Teague, who had 6 points, 2 assists, and 1 steal during the run.
Boston dominated the final period
After Atlanta seemed to take control in the third quarter, Boston roared back in the fourth. It's impossible to know if Brad Stevens or the players said anything to motivate each other, but the fourth quarter is exactly how Stevens would like to see his players perform. The Celtics played perfect defense, holding the Hawks to only 13 points, and only six in the final 9:30 of the game. Atlanta was never able to get anything going offensively, and the Celtics translated that into offense of their own. Crawford set the tone with 10 points, while Brandon Bass chipped in with 8 of his own.
Olynyk, Bogans don't make the trip
Rookie big man Kelly Olynyk (ankle) and veteran forward Keith Bogans (illness) didn't make the trip to Atlanta. Olynyk is expected to miss a couple of weeks after turning his ankle Friday night against Indiana. Bogans still can't seem to shake an illness that has plagued him the past two weeks.
Brandon Bass took the place of Olynyk in the starting lineup, and scored 17 points and had 7 rebounds. Bass had a monster dunk in the fourth quarter, which will most definitely show up on highlight reels throughout the next few days.
Boston will have a day off on Sunday before traveling to Charlotte to face the Bobcats on Monday. In their first meeting on November 13th, the Celtics were defeated 89-83.